Nothing should ever stop you from reaching your dreams. Previously, we’ve shared the story of how Ramly Burger came to be. Today, we’ll be sharing with you guys another origin story of a famous mini market, 99 Speedmart. You can find this mini market basically anywhere you go around the country.
Being born with a physical disability did not stop the founder of 99 Speedmart, Lee Thiam Wah from working hard and becoming a successful entrepreneur. This is the story of how he earned the title, The King of Mini Markets.
Lee Thiam Wah was born in Klang, Selangor in 1964. His early childhood was definitely not easy. As a baby, he suffered from polio which made him unable to walk ultimately leading him to be wheelchair bound during his childhood. His father, a construction worker and his mother, a hawker worked day and night to feed their 11 children.
Unfortunately, his parents couldn’t afford to educate their children to pursue a higher education. Primary 6 was the furthest Thiam Wah could go. At the age of 14, the future entrepreneur started his own small business selling snacks to help his parents out.
By 1987 at 23, he managed to save a sum of RM17,000. He used the money to start his very first grocery shop called ‘Pasaraya Hiap Hoe’. After a few years, he sold his grocery business for RM88,000 and opened a mini market named ‘Pasar Mini 99’. This was the moment his life changed forever.
Ever wondered why it was named 99 Speedmart? The owner explained that the number 99 was not a perfect 100 score, hence there was always room for improvement where his business was concerned. The mini market was initially targeted for low income customers and migrant workers. Since then, the business kept on expanding and opened its 1000th outlet in 2017. Thiam Wah’s company’s revenue had reached RM2.1 billion in 2014.
By November 2021, there are more than two thousand 99 Speedmart outlets nationwide. With his grandmother’s encouragement, motivation and inspiring words, the entrepreneur did not allow his physical disabilities to deter him from achieving his goals. His sheer determination has earned him the title, ‘The King of Mini Markets’.